It Could Be Worse

Series Farewell

By Sulia Serafine

Warning! ICBW Ending and The Gift Ending spoilers!

[The stage is dark. After the murmur of the audience quiets down, a single spotlight shines down at the center of the stage. A young woman steps forward into the light. She smiles as the initial applause reaches her ears. After a few moments, everything is quiet again and she begins to speak.]

Author: I would like to thank everyonewho has supported the series during its running. Four years is a long time. I didn't expect ICBW to take over my high school existence the way it did. But I'm glad that I had this continuing experience. I've gained a lot in ways of writing style, feeding off the opinions and critiques of readers such as yourselves. I probably wouldn't have chosen English as my field of study if it weren't for everything that fanfiction has brought to me. So thank you.

[A second spotlight appears stage left of the author.]

Author: At this time, the cast members of ICBW would like to say a few words, summing up their characters and their experiences here. They are all just as sad as me to see the series end. But we're all happy to see the turnout of support.

[Owen Jesslaw and his tent mates: Peg, Crown, and Aiden.The author retreats while her spotlight merges with the second one.]

Owen: Hello, everyone! I hope you're having a jolly good time!

[The audience cheers.]

Owen: This is so hard for us, being the opening speakers at this wonderful farewell party you're throwing for us. I still can't believe that I'm standing here as one of the characters who had such a happy ending. I started out as one of Kel's two best friends, but I was hardly seen throughout the entire series. Despite that, I managed to land myself an exciting position in the expeditionary force exploring the Roof and landed a girlfriend there while I was at it.

[Peg smiles and waves.]

Owen: My best scenes were always with Neal and Keladry, reliving the past and dreaming about the future. My character wouldn't have gotten far if it weren't for friends like them. And we'll never forget it.

[The four explorers depart. A man and woman take their place.]

Hakuin: Hello, hello! As you all know, I'm Instructor Hakuin Seastone.

Eda: And I'm Instructor Eda Bell. We're two minor characters seen even less than Owen Jesslaw, but who's to say that makes us any less important?

Hakuin: Right you are, Eda! We trained Kel as soon as she left the Academy and came to Tortal HQ. With the exception of Zell Dincht, you could say that we are the ones responsible for Kel's kick-butt skills!

Eda: Not to mention the free vacation you gave her and her friends during the second season.

Hakuin: [stretching his arms over his head lazily] Yup! It pays to come from a rich, bribing family…

[Edarolls her eyes before dragging him out of the spotlight behind her. Hakuin stumbles and waves as they depart. Three men and a Stormwing enter next, all looking less than enthused to be there.]

Vinson: Will this take long? I have a date with that actress who plays Lalasa. I have to get ready.

[Roger cuffs him on the back of the head. Ozorne and Rikash look on, amused.]

Roger: Would you shut up? [Faces audience.] Well! I don't know what to say to you all. We're the villains of the first season. That's right! Before the big baddies like Enishi and the Chamberlain, we were the ones causing hell on earth.

Ozorne: And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those pesky kids—

Rikash: [clawing Ozorne's arm on which he is perched] Hey, this isn't Scooby Doo, pal. Save it.

Roger: The point is, we put the entire story into motion! That's right! Us!

Ozorne: [scoffs] Actually, Roger, I'm the one who set the story into motion. Keladry and Joren were partnered together on a mission to get me. And I'm Lalasa's father as well. That makes me quite the important character. Even my enemies still remind the main cast about my evil by trying to kill Lalasa and Kaddar after my death!

Vinson: Blah, blah, blah. I got shot by Joren, at least. Big dramatic scene! How the hell did you die? Huh? Kalasin stabbed you in the back!

[Roger cuffs Vinson in the back of the head again.]

Roger: At least I gave Joren his second near-death experience.

Vinson: What was the first?

Roger: The fire that took his parents' lives, d'uh.

Vinson: Oh.

Rikash: [preening proudly] And I gave him the third near-death experience! Falling off a building and whatnot. And as Enishi explained, my blood activated Joren's latent royal blood. Just no one knew it yet.

Vinson: Can we leave yet?

[Roger raises his hand to smack him again. Vinson cringes and ducks. Roger smiles and puts his hand down.]

Roger: Yes. Goodbye, dear fans! And if anyone doubts that I'm a sexier super villain than Enishi Yukishiro, just watch this finely sculpted butt as I walk out!

[Roger exits, his three companions reluctantly following. A few women cheer loudly. Two men and two women, their expressions filled with disgust at the last display, walk into the spotlight. It is Jonathan and Thayet Conté, accompanied by Daine Sarrasri and Numair Salmalin.]

Jonathan: Well, it's been fun being president. Asides from the Immortals scandal, and all.

Numair: Indeed… you would think you'd heed our advice about strange creatures, but no—you just had to put your money behind all those creepy scientists.

Jonathan: I've learned my lesson.

Thayet: [snorts] You better have.

Daine: Anyway, thank you everyone for your praise! The series would have been nothing without you!

[The audience cheers yet again.]

Numair: And thanks for putting up with the fact that our love affair was put in the off-screen action!

Thayet: [tapping chin] I'm still somewhat surprised that you two didn't elope before the end of the series. I mean, even Raoul and Buri got their small wedding.

Daine: I suppose Ms. Serafine didn't want to chance so many weddings. Too clean of a happy ending.

Jonathan: [smirks mischievously at his wife] Trust me when I say you're not missing out on much.

[Thayetwastes no time in elbowing him in the side. Jonathan smiles.]

Numair: Goodbye, everyone! Thank you again!

[The four exit. Now Alanna, Thom, and George enter. Alanna is obviously pregnant.]

Alanna: I don't see why I still have to wear this fake belly.

George: For effect, darling. I think the last personal appearance we made, you were pregnant.

Alanna: Was I?

George: A month or so, I suppose.

Thom: [rolls eyes] Well my last notable appearance was on a stretcher being loaded into the ambulance.

Alanna: [pinches Thom] And whose fault was that?

[Thom mumbles.]

Alanna: Anyway! It's been so great working with the cast of ICBW. It's nice to be the legendary heroine whom everyone looks up for. I didn't get that much screen time, but at least I got more than these two.

[George shrugs indifferently while Thom sulks.]

Alanna: I wish my fellow cast members all the best of luck in the future, especially Keladry Mindelan! I know according to The Gift that she has a wonderful life set in front of her. I'm sure her DJPF career will be just as successful as mine. [Grabs both George and Thom by the ears.] Now come along, you two!

[They exit, Thom still protesting wildly. A lone figure of stiff posture enters the stage, seemingly unruffled by the trio that has just passed him.]

Wyldon: It's easy to see who wears the pants in that relationship. Ahem! [He clasps his hands behind his back.] As you all know, I'm Commissioner Wyldon, one of the commanding officers at DJPF Headquarters. I must say that my character would be proud of all the DJPF officers in ICBW—Keladry Mindelan most of all. She has always persevered in the face of danger, loss, and… absurdity. Joren Stone was a very promising officer as well. He's still unmatched in some areas, but I'm not sure as to his reliability. I mean, what with disappearing for almost a year.

[He clears his throat nervously.]

Wyldon: As for the other officers that I have known in my time—Cleon Kennan, Nealan Queenscove, Owen Jesslaw… I'm… I'm sure that if they haven't killed themselves with stupidity yet, there is a good chance they never will. I only hope they decide not to breed. [Thinks of Cleon and shudders.] That is all. I'm taking my leave of you, now and forever.

[Wyldonexits in a stately fashion, head held high and arms swinging rigidly at his sides. Another trio of characters appears, apparently bickering already.]

Buri: I still can't believe our honeymoon was in Tortall. Your character knew that I wanted a quiet weekend.

Raoul: Tortall is a fine city!

Flyn: Yeah, right. You only wanted to show off to Jonathan and Gary that you had actually gotten married. [To Buri.] They thought it would never happen!

Buri: [choosing to ignore both men] We thank you again, as you have been thanked by everyone tonight, for making us come alive in these character roles. I regret that my character was apart of assigning Joren Stone to his first undercover operation. It was lengthy and it was painful.

[A spotlight appears at the edge of the stage. Paxton Nond stands with his arms folded across his chest.]

Paxton: I'll say! You're not the ones who were shot!

[Another spotlight appears at the opposite edge of the stage. Coram and Kimmy are there, also annoyed.]

Coram: At least your apartment wasn't burned down! We had to skip town with only the clothes on our backs and a pocketful of change!

[Both spotlights disappear as do the characters. Buri, Raoul, and Flyn stand confused.]

Raoul: In any case, we've done a lot of wacky things asides from getting married. Ms. Serafine never saw fit to separate the three of us for any reason. I guess you could say we are the Tusaine Trio.

Flyn: No. We are not. I hate that name.

Raoul: Fine. But we've stuck together. Even when I had to throw that welcoming banquet for Jon, we persevered!

Buri: You hardly did anything! It was the Riders who kept your rear end out of the fire! Come on, we've spent too much time onstage. It's time to let the real reasons behind your success to speak their mind.

Raoul: Hey! I had to learn table manners!

Flyn: A child could have learned in less time than you.

[The trio departs, bickering just as loudly as when they entered. The Riders run onstage, a burst of fresh energy and whooping. The audience cheers louder than before, feeding off their positive energy.]

Fianola: [waving her arms] Thank you! Thank you! We love you guys, too!

Prosper: [bowing bashfully] Yes, we appreciate all the praise you've given us. It's nice to know our purposes as comedic relief turned out so well.

Seaver: [holding up a baby snake] Yup! We couldn't have pulled anything off without you! It was hard work throwing football parties and hanging out drinking and eating pizza!

Qasim: We didn't just do that. Like Flyn and Buri pointed out, we made Raoul's banquet a success.

Fianola: Excuse you! My dessert made the thing a success! You just dressed up like servers and chefs. Seaver's snake scared off the professionals!

Lerant: Hey, hey, hey. I booked the whole thing. Master organizer that I am. [pauses.] Wait a second. Who was the one whose butt was grabbed by Alanna's daughter? He should get the most applause for enduring that!

Dom: [pokes Seaver] Hey, oh attracter-of-jailbait. That's you.

Seaver: Shut up! At least I didn't get knocked out by slipping in water!

Dom: [remembers] And whose fault was that?

Yuki: [points at Lerant] It was my so-called boyfriend.

Lerant: Yuki!

Dom: You're lucky that we're in the middle of a Goodbye Special. I'll pummel you later. You know I actually had to fall for that take, like, five times? It was ridiculous! They kept reshooting the scene! It was awful! Anyway, my character has been lucky enough to get the most screen time out of all the Riders.

Fianola: Only because you try to befriend Joren. I hate to tell you this, Dom, but although Joren is occasionally mistaken for a woman—

Dom: That was not why I befriended Joren! You tart!

[Fianola grins and whistles innocently.]

Qasim: Well, you have to admit, you were starting to get attracted to a lot of people there. You hit on Keladry, didn't you? The Chicken Marsala?

Prosper: Oh yeah. By the way, just how did you know about Joren's Bratwurst?

Fianola: Ooh! Plot bunnies galore! Why oh why didn't Sulia take advantage of them?

Yuki: To keep me from vomiting in disgust. That's why.

Dom: Hey! At least I got an appearance in the last episode! [Dom does a little victory dance. He stops when he notices the other Riders glaring at him. He smiles weakly.] Time to go!

[Dom dashes off stage. His comrades follow. They are replaced by four calm and austere looking characters from the third season.]

Chisakami: [bowing] I'm sorry my character almost had a dragon destroy everything.

Borealize: I'm sorry I was not there to stop Faleron from being shot.

Selirithel: I'm sorry that I didn't get to use my magic against the Chamberlain Maggur.

[Another side spotlight appears. Maggur is there.]

Maggur: I'm not!

[The spotlight disappears. Shinkokamilooks irritated.]

Shinkokami: Well, I'm not sorry at all! Not only did I get killed off at the height of my fan praise, but I had to get hit on by Nealan Queenscove! I mean, he's actually in love, but the man can be quite… argh!

[The four Yamani characters stand there in silence, unsure of what else to say.]

Borealize: Um, okay.

Chisakami: Um?

Selirithel: …

Shinkokami: Okay! We're leaving!

[She leads them offstage. Conal and Inness appear.]

Conal: Why did my character have to be such a traitor?

Inness: I don't know. At least you didn't have to get sentimental with Keladry.

Conal: But I was so shafted, man! I'm the black sheep, I betray everyone out of ambition, and I get a knife in my back! Couldn't I have at least gotten a tryst with one of those she-demons who were throwing themselves at Joren and Neal?

Inness: Sorry, bro. Them's the brakes.

Conal: [annoyed] This totally blows.

Inness: Indeed. I end up mentally exhausted. I mean, I get nightmares about everything that's happened… I have to be comforted by our characters' baby sister! Oh, but at least I get to take up the guitar.

Conal: I repeat! This totally blows!

Inness: Agreed. Want to spray paint the main characters' trailers?

Conal: Good idea. Good night, folks!

[The two men exit. Two different men enter, with not as large chips on their shoulders as those before them. Well, one of them, anyway.]

Wolset: [patting Ulliver's shoulder comfortingly] Dude, I'm sorry your character got the boot.

Ulliver: S'okay. I'm dating the actress who plays Kalasin.

Wolset: [blinks] How did that happen?

Ulliver: Oh, there was some behind the scenes romancing at the second to last episode. I mean, Kel's character is a tease. Had to find a "romantic" outlet somewhere. And Kalasin hates the actor who plays Cleon in real life. Just like the whole Lalasa-Roald true story.

Wolset: …

Ulliver: But hey! I got a bonus on my paycheck for all those sweet mushy scenes with Keladry! And you know, the make-up artist isn't responsible for that hickey on Kel's neck.

Wolset: Too much information! Too much information! [becomespale.]

Ulliver: No, really. I enjoyed playing Ulliver. He's a really good guy with a lot of bad luck.

Wolset: Yeah, and the fans were really starting to like him in the final season.

Ulliver: They had to! Not only was Joren scarce, but… [He flexes his arms and kisses both biceps] I'm not a bad looker, either. That "Turkeys don't have abs like these" line? Totally me! Best improvisation ever!

Wolset: [rolls his eyes] Sure…

Ulliver: Anyway, thank you, all you fangirls who started to like me in the end! I won't forget you! My cell phone number is—

Wolset: [begins dragging Ulliver offstage.] Goodnight! Goodnight!

[The two men leave. Lalasa and Roald enter.]

Lalasa: [noticeably not touching Roald] You like me! You really like me!

Roald: They like me, too.

Lalasa: Well they have to. Where was I? You like me! You really, really like me!

[Roald rolls his eyes.]

Lalasa: I'm proud at least that our characters have had the longest lasting relationship of all those that were started during the series. We actually got to the altar and the delivery room.

Roald: Not that those scenes were much fun, anyway…

Lalasa: And oh! I got all those fabulousclothes. The costumers were my best friends. I tell ya! Costumes were great. Absolutely… stupendous.

Roald: [imitating Lalasa's voice] Blah, blah, blah. Blah? Blah!

[Lalasa glares at Roald.]

Lalasa: Hey! At least they like me better than they like you.

Roald: I'll admit that the men might like you more because you got Kel into a bikini. But the women out there love me! I'm the perfect boyfriend!

Lalasa: [scoffs] Actually, that role went to Ulliver.

Roald: I can't believe I actually had to go through all those love scenes with you. Because of your character, I got to miss out on all the adventures that they had!

Lalasa: Because of me?

Roald: Yeah, you!

Lalasa: That's it! I want a divorce!

Roald: We're not even really married, you dumb—

[Vinson storms onstage and punches Roald.]

Vinson: I'll thank you not to insult my girlfriend. Come on, Lalasa. Let's go to my trailer.

Lalasa: Gladly!

[The couple leaves in one direction. Roald rubs his smarting cheekbone and leaves in the other direction. There is a snicker offstage. The amused person is revealed to be Liam Irons, who is accompanied by Enishi Yukishiro and Yahiko Yukishiro as they go onstage.]

Liam: Wow. And I thought I had problems.

Enishi: You do. Still need to pick up hemorrhoid cream?

Liam: Ha. Ha.

Yahiko: What's hemorrhoid cream?

[Enishiand Liam exchange glances.]

Enishi: Nothing.

Liam: Okay, back to why we're here. Our characters really screwed things up starting in the second season. I started courting Keladry. And let me tell ya, Ulliver isn't the only one to have—

Enishi: Liam.

Liam: What?

[Enishigestures to Yahiko.]

Liam: Oh. Right. All right, let's just say that Kel and I started to develop something really special. I took her to the fair, bought a bracelet… I mean, I was really laying on the romantic gentleman stuff. I would have had her!

Enishi: Joren interfered, of course.

Liam: [grinding his teeth] Of course.

Enishi: And I had to order you to stop dating Keladry. Things with the other gangs in town were starting to get restless. Joren was coming closer and closer to realizing the truth.

Liam: [muttering] That you're a giant ass…

Enishi: Things only became more complicated when he stepped onto my turf in Season 3.

Liam: Season 3 sucked.

Enishi: [mouth twitching at the corners] Oh? Are you saying that because several people accused Sulia of having UST between you and Joren? Because Jaelawyn Noble pointed out several points of possible slashy interpretation?

Liam: Shut up!

Enishi: [triumphant] Denial is the first stage.

Liam: …

Yahiko: What's slash?

[Enishiand Liam exchange glances yet again.]

Liam: Nothing. [To Enishi] At least I end up with a girl in the end! The Gift finally compensates me for the loss of Keladry!

Enishi: Yvenne's character is half your age. You can't grow any older.

Liam: Yeah. [now the triumphant one] And Joren can. His character's hair will turn white like yours—but mine won't because I'm not really your son! Ha! Take that one, old man!

Yahiko: [hands covering his white haired head] I like my hair… [pouts]

Enishi: Look what you've done. You've upset him.

Liam: Youupset him!

Enishi: You're still pissed that your character was second fiddle to everything that happened to Joren.

Liam: Right. Because I would be jealous that I didn't have to escape a burning building when I was a child. I would be jealous of having to shoot my mentor. And I'd be jealous of depression. Give the man some Zoloft! For crying out loud!

Yahiko: What's Zoloft?

[A side spotlight turned on. The Author herself leaned out from the curtain and glared at the two men.]

Author: You're both taking extremely long. Can you leave now?

Enishi & Liam: Gladly!

[The two men leave. Yahiko scurries after them. The Author's spotlight shuts off. The next four characters to arrive are Cleon Kennan, Nealan Queenscove, Kalasin Jasson, and Faleron King. Neal and Cleon enter, trying to get the audience on their feet and shouting. Kalasin and Faleron hang back, watching like spectators.]

Neal: Woohoo! That's what I'm talking about!

Cleon: Yeah! That's right! The stars are here! The real stars!

Neal: Get up on your feet! Clap those hands!

[The audience goes wild. Faleron rolls his eyes.]

Cleon: Yeah! Let's get this party going!

Kalasin: Hey, boys?

Neal: What?

Faleron: We need to get back on track. We're supposed to be talking about our characters and what this entire series has meant to us as actors.

Cleon: But that's so boring!

Kalasin: Tough. Now start talking, Kennan.

Cleon: [toes the stage with his shoe] Well… my character started out as a rookie. He has been incredibly optimistic and light hearted nearly this entire series. He's the goof. He's the stereotypical, nothing-can-get-me-down, happy goof. He loves being funny. He loves making people laugh. And… he's really good at shooting stuff.

Faleron: I believe the term is good marksmanship.

Cleon: Yeah, whatever. Hey! I get the sexiest girlfriend out of everyone here.

[Kalasin sighs and glances away. The actor who plays Ulliver is in the stage wings, waving. She smiles.]

Cleon: So things get a little serious whenever his friends are in trouble. He'll come through for them in a pinch. Especially for Faleron. That's pretty ironic, considering my character was about to kill him when we first met in Season 1.

Faleron: Of course, things changed. His optimism countered my cynicism and eventually I began to get chipper, too.

Neal: Is chipper a word?

Faleron: It is! And it's hard for a down-on-luck thief to become a law abiding citizen again. My character had a hard life. It was a shame what happened to him in the end.

Cleon: Yeah. That sucked.

Faleron: [dryly] Understatement of the year. Anyway, I want to thank everyone who mourned my death. It's always difficult when someone dies, even a character. Ms. Serafine really didn't want to get rid of me. But ICBW wasn't a perfect world. People had to die. Villains, heroes… no one's immune.

Neal: Except Joren.

Faleron: [muttering] Lucky bastard. Wish I was the main character…

Cleon: Faleron King was a great man. My character took it very hard when he died. They were best friends. More than that—they were brothers! [pats Faleron on the back.]

Faleron: Indeed. Fal found love with Fia, but he found irreplaceable camaraderie with Cleon.

Cleon: Same here, dude. Same here.

Neal: Whatever. They're tired of hearing about you. Let's talk about me for a second!

Kalasin: [narrowing her eyes] You, huh? Okay. I can sum up Nealan Queenscove for you. He's a guy who never had any expectations for himself except the ones Kel gave him. He's injured or sick everyseason. Let's see… Season 1: Copper Flu. Couldn't go with Kel and Joren on their mission, huh? Season 2: thrown out of a speeding car. Several broken bones and scrapes there. Physical therapy galore. Season 3: Mauled by a wolf-creature and shot through the arm by one Cleon Kennan.

Cleon: [sheepishly] It was necessary!

Neal: Pfft!

Kalasin: And Season 4: physical therapy. Rehabilitation again. Occasionally, he attempts to date women and enjoy the nightlife. He has a platonic relationship with Kel, forces his way into the company of the Three Stooges, and waits too long to be a realman to go after Yuki.

Neal: Well, I had Shinko…

Kalasin: I'm sorry, did Shinko ever give you an indication that she liked you?

Neal: … Well, burn my characters dreams to the ground why don't you!

Cleon: Hey, Kally, your character wasn't that great either.

Faleron: Yeah! I mean, look who you ended up with.

Cleon: Shut up!

Kalasin: [sighs] Yes, I find myself most unfortunate. Abandoned parents, hardened emotions… I become an assassin for the Myles Olau and I'm Roald's older half sister. I become an aunt before the end of the series, I fall for a redheaded dork because he gave me a stuffed hippo… and I have to pull him out of his own misery by forcing him to take a walk with me on the beach.

Faleron: Gee. I can see how you would consider that unfortunate. Your character even lives. Right. That must be a bummer.

Neal: Okay, okay. The point is… our characters really connect emotionally. We go through a lot of crap and come out on top. Except Fal.

Faleron: Blah, blah, blah. Get on with it.

Cleon: So the series has really meant a lot to us. Your own emotional reactions to our plights mean a lot to us. It means Sulia is on the right track.

Faleron: Yeah. Making me worm food.

Kalasin: That's it. I'm gone. I have a date.

[Kalasin stalks off to join Ulliver. The three men trail behind, waving to the audience. Several girls scream out to Faleron, who runs back on stage briefly to blow kisses.]

Faleron: I love you! I love you all!

[He grins and leaves. There is a pause behind the curtains. A loud smack is clearly heard. At last, a young man, woman, and a boy walk onto the stage.]

Vinny: [rubbing his cheek] Sheesh…

Little Fal (from hereon referred to as Fal): Was that really necessary, Yvenne?

Yvenne: Of course it was.

Vinny: Ladies and gentlemen! That is how you sum up the character of Yvenne Noble! A violent b—

Yvenne: Vincent!

Fal: Um… So! Hello, out there! I'm the cute one.

Vinny: No, you're not. I'm the cute one! I'm the devilishly sexy one! I have Joren's looks with way more charm and charisma!

Yvenne: You wish.

Vinny: [strips off his jacket and is left with a thin white T-shirt. There is loud cheering in the audience.] Oh yeah?

Fal: Vinny, we're supposed to talk about ourselves and the end of the series.

Vinny: Right. Why don't you start, squirt?

Fal: Okay. Well, uh, I came into The Gift looking for an escape from my prep school vacation at the casino. I'd heard so many tales of adventure from my parents' youths that I wanted to do some adventuring of my own. On the way, I formed close bonds with both Yvenne and Vinny. We became a family!

Yvenne: I really wish you were my brother, Fal. You are just too cute!

Vinny: I'm cuter!

[Yvenneglares at him.]

Fal: Um. Right. Well, in the end, I realize that I have to stop worrying everyone and go home. My parents start spending more time with me and well, I go to the Academy! My character is so smart. He's meant to go on to wonderful things.

Yvenne: Just like me! I end up with a dark stranger, who turns out being a whole lot nicer than Vinny ever was, and I get to live in a fantasy world like Enishijirou!

Vinny: And to think, she started out as a high school dropout working as a bookie in a sports bar. In Carthak, no less.

Yvenne: Says the hustler who only had the clothes on his back. I really liked my character. She was independent. She was strong. She took responsibility and she kept reminding Vinny of his.

Vinny: What responsibility? Sorry, babe, but my character didn't ask for two companions and a beat up car. They just fell into my lap.

Fal: I hid in your trunk.

Vinny: Yeah, we know. Just like your dad. In the trunk.

Yvenne: You know what? Let's talk about your character, Vince. Your egotistical, arrogant, selfish character!

Vinny: You forgot intelligent, resourceful, tortured, and dead sexy.

Yvenne: Don't give me that tortured crap! Ooh, look at me! I'm Vinny and I have weird powers and no parents! I think I'll make a martyr of myself and not tell my friends so I can continue to sulk on my own!

Vinny: …

Fal: [to the audience] You'll notice how she didn't deny the dead sexy part.

Vinny: [laughs] Yeah buddy!

Yvenne: Hmph! Who cares about that? My character ends up with Liam.

Vinny: Yeah! A guy who's old enough to be your father! He won't grow old, Yvenne! Either he turns you into whatever he is or your character eventually gets mistaken for his mother!

[Yvennesmacks Vinny on the back of the head. Vinny winces and puts Fal between them. The little boy sighs.]

Fal: In any case, Vinny is reunited with his mother and his father. Separately of course. He endures the mysterious hints from both Enishi and Liam. He is betrayed by Ansil Groten and bumps into his old hospital friends. There is a lot of closure for him here, because he can finally face his past.

Vinny: Yeah. Facing my past. I call it, having-Liam-shoot-them-to-hell. At least your boy toy's good for something, Yvenne.

Yvenne: Whatever.

Fal: Vinny's glad to be reunited with his father. He's been telling himself this whole time that he just wanted answers to his questions. But now that he has a home and family to call his own, that doesn't seem to matter anymore. He finally realizes what he's been missing out on.

Vinny: Yeah. It's called free food and bed. [is smackedagain] OW! Yvenne, would you stop?

Yvenne: I didn't touch you!

[From behind the curtain]: That was me.

[Joren and Keladry step out, both smirking. Joren claps his son on the shoulder.]

Joren: I can't believe your character grew up without ever getting smacked for that mouth of yours.

Vinny: Yeah, a mouth I inherited from you.

Joren: Shut up. Go to your room.

Vinny: What?

Yvenne: You heard your dad, Vince! Go to your room!

Vinny: I can't believe this…

[Vinny, Yvenne, and little Fal head offstage. Joren and Keladry remain. Keladry smiles softly at the audience while Joren wears his signature dark expression.]

Keladry: Nice parenting skills, Joren.

Joren: Whatever.

Keladry: Are we going to talk about our characters or what?

Joren: You can talk. I'll just stand here and ignore the many fangirls undressing me with their eyes.

Keladry: [chuckles] Okay. Ahem. Well, I start off as this workaholic who keeps her really deep emotions to herself. She has friends, but she still keeps a good distance from them. She doesn't want to worry them with her problems. Finally, she meets this new partner that really gets under her skin and brings all these emotions to the surface that she thought she would never experience!

Joren: Oh, please. I pissed you off a few times. So what?

Keladry: We were thrust into a mysterious tale of deception and intrigue, running from the law. We were the law! And along the way, we picked up some new friends and enemies… Alliances and friendships were forged… We all cared about each other. Even if some people weren't willing to admit it.

Joren: Who, me? Oh, you. Yeah, that was you.

Keladry: [rolling her eyes] We learned a lot about each other. And we eventually came to realize that we depended on each other. We became each other's emotional outlets.

Joren: Translation: we yelled at each other a lot and kissed each other senseless when we felt like screwing with the other's head.

Keladry: I never kissed you to screw with your head!

Joren: Oh, right. I forget that I'm the devious one.

Keladry: You even confided in me about your past. On the Ferris wheel, you showed me a picture of the son you never knew you had.

Joren: Well, it was in the script…

Keladry: [elbowing him hard] And you invited me to your trailer after filming was done for the day.

Joren: Keladry Mindelan! There are impressionable youngsters in this room!

Keladry: Argh! Joren, will you help me out already? Talk about yourself! About your character!

Joren: …You catch me in a wet towel.

Keladry: [blushing] Not intentionally.

Joren: We fall asleep together in a bath tub?

Keladry: I was a bit tipsy.

Joren: Okay… I bought you a motorcycle. If that doesn't say love, I don't know what does.

Keladry: I'll give you that. But I think everyone wants to hear how you felt about me when we were finally starting to get everything on track! You know, the end of Season 2 all the way until the end of the series.

Joren: [rubs back of neck nervously] Okay, so I spent that whole time caring about Kel, but I still had a lot of emotional baggage to sort out. She was there for me, but it wasn't enough. I had to be alone with myself… think about things. And what happens? I go to the mountains, I learn more about my twisted past… I end up in the desert with Enishi… and I get shot again.

Keladry: How many near death experiences is that now? Four?

Joren: Five. You forget when Neal pushed me down a mountain and I hit my head on a rock. I might never have woken up. Oh, wait. If you count when I fell off the castle battlements during the battle in Enishijirou, you could say six.

Keladry: You're like a roach. After nuclear fallout, you'll still be around.

Joren: And wearing something sexy, don't ever doubt that.

Keladry: The point is… at the series end, we both realize there's no escaping it. I mean, I try for several months to love Ulliver. And I do end up caring about him as much as I did care about Liam at one point. But deep down, my heart knows that it already belongs to Joren.

Joren: What can I say? Animal magnetism.

Keladry: I'd say love.

Joren: I guess. Can we go back to my trailer now?

Keladry: Well…

Joren: What else do you want me to say? Joren Stone loves Keladry Mindelan. There! I said it. We get married, move to your hometown, have kids, get a house… I put up with the normalcy on account of me taking up motorcross again in my spare time… We take in my illegitimate son and we all live happily after! Can we please go to my trailer now?

Keladry: [smilingsweetly] Joren Stone loves Keladry Mindelan, huh?

Joren: Damn straight.

Keladry: Hmm… [loops arm with his] All right. Let's go, blondie.

[The couple walks off stage, smiling. The audience applauds and cheers. The author reappears again, trying very hard to keep a straight face, but failing.]

Author: Well! I think that's as close to closure as we're going to get. I must say, I do plan on rewriting ICBW with new names and such so I can finally finish it one day. I also have a few original ideas in the works, one which is currently titled "The Fifth Prince" and will be a quartet of books centering around a ne'er-do-well fifth son and prince named Sion. I probably won't publish any of my large pieces until I'm out of college, so I fear I will lose touch with you all. But know that I'll never forget you! I'll make an appearance every now and then. Look out—you'll never know when I'll actually read a fanfic and review it. Now that I don't have a fanfic schedule to keep, I can take my time writing my new original fiction projects. I can read fanfics again!

Author: I just really want to say… thank you. For your friendship through the years. I appreciate it. My characters appreciate it. We all help one another get along in life. It's a bond a love and trust that will never rust or break. It will be there, always.

Author: This is Sulia Serafine, signing off.

[The audience applauses. The noise is deafening. The spotlight dims. The curtains close.]

The End